A musician through the years
By Denise Baran-Unland Correspondent February 7, 2013 12:30PM
Although he has been writing and playing music since his teens, Mitch Alvarez of New Lenox finally created his dream project; a professionally produced CD of 10 original songs.| submitted photo
If you go
What: Mitch Alvarez all-ages free concert and CD signing
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: The Hub, 1303 Schoolhouse Road, Unit 3, New Lenox
Buy: “Staring at the Moon” is available at www.amazon.com, www.cdbaby.com or www.iTunes.com.
Information: Visit www.mitchalvarezmusic.com and www.productrecording.com.
Updated: March 9, 2013 6:08AM
Mitch Alvarez, 60, of New Lenox has been playing — and later recording — his original music since he was 19.
But when two former band mates opened a recording studio, Alvarez decided now was the time to create his dream project of original, professionally produced material. “Staring at the Moon” contains 10 positive original songs, recorded one at a time every couple of months over the past year. He will perform Friday at The Hub in New Lenox.
“I had some old ones I wanted to redo, but I kept writing during that period, too,” Alvarez said. “I’d save enough money to pay the guys and then I’d record one. When I came up with something new, I’d be so inspired with it, I’d push some of the other ones aside.”
“Don’t be Lonely,” track one on “Staring at the Moon,” is 30 years old and one Alvarez had forgotten until another former band mate sent him a CD of live footage from ages ago.
“It’s not a hard-core love song, more like a companionship song,” Alvarez said. “I always liked its message of ‘Keep in community with other people,’ and it’s just fun to play. So we updated it and rocked it out.”
Alvarez wrote “Meant to Be” for his son’s wedding. “American Dream” has a rockabilly style. Musical influences include The Eagles, John Denver and Sam Cooke. Alvarez’s favorite song is “Gospel of Love,” a tribute to his faith, his previous participation in a worship band and the truth of love, which can mean different things to different people.
“I wanted to keep the song open to interpretation,” Alvarez said.
In his teen years, Alvarez had been the friendly “groupie” for his friends, all members of various bands. One day, they handed Alvarez a guitar and suggested he join them. So Alvarez accepted their helpful tips, took some formal lessons and reproduced the guitar licks and bass riffs he heard on his Beatles and Bob Dylan records. Songwriting became the natural next step for Alvarez, a voracious reader as well as poetry writer.
In 1976, Alvarez moved to Texas and played music full time for a country and swing Western group. He then returned to Chicago and worked as a full-time bassist for two country rock bands that performed both cover and original material: Free Wheel and Moon Dog.
“I was single so I didn’t have a lot of overhead, so before I got married and had kids, it was fine,” Alvarez said. “There was a lot of opportunity for country rock bands. ‘Urban Cowboy’ was out and there was a market for doing your own songs, so I was able to keep busy.”
Through the years, Alvarez had continued to play professionally on the weekends and to record music in his home studio. In the past, as a member of the praise band CPR at Lincolnway Christian Church in New Lenox, Alvarez and the other members would offer Christian music concerts and donate any free-will offerings to charity.
On “Staring at the Moon” Alvarez sings lead vocals and plays bass guitar. Three New Lenox musicians and current members of CPR, sing backup vocals and play the remainder of the instruments. These are Dave Bellah on guitar, Steve Ashum on keyboards and percussion and Jason Parks on drums.
Ashum and Parks are owners of Product Recording in New Lenox where Alvarez recorded “Staring at the Moon.” Alvarez’s wife, Laurel, also contributed to some of the vocals.
Alvarez hopes many people listen to his CD, for feedback, not for gold.
“I’d like to see if it strikes a nerve with anybody. If it does, I’ll record another,” Alvarez said. “If not, then it was fun and I have something for posterity that my children and grandchildren can enjoy some day.”